Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Polar ice may be softer than we thought

22.06.2018

Tübingen and international researchers investigate ice flow speed in northern Greenland, correcting models predicting sea level change

Ice is a material that can flow like a very viscous liquid. In the polar ice sheets, it flows towards the oceans under its own weight. Knowing how fast the ice flows is of crucial importance to predict future sea level rises, particularly under changing climate conditions.

Professors Paul Bons and Ilka Weikusat from the University of Tübingen’s Geosciences Department, working with scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, the University of Otago (New Zealand) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), measured flow velocities at the surface of the northern Greenland Ice Sheet for a new study now published in Geophysical Research Letters. Their analysis of satellite images suggests that the polar ice is softer than scientists believed until now.

The flow has two components: the internal shearing flow that depends on the viscosity of the ice, and basal motion, which is the ice sheet sliding along the bedrock, especially when the ice melts at that base. The satellite images revealed the surface velocities of the ice, which the researchers used to calculate the stresses that drive the flow.

Previous studies indicated that up to 50 percent of the Greenland Ice Sheet is melting at its base. “This new study shows that that is probably overestimated, because previous studies assumed ice to be harder than it actually is,” says Paul Bons. The new assessment significantly reduces the area where basal motion – and therefore basal melting can be expected in the Greenland study area.

“This does not necessarily mean that ice will now enter the oceans more slowly and delay sea-level rise. Instead, the results suggest that the internal deformation of ice is more important than was thought before,” Ilka Weikusat explains. The new findings will be used to adapt the models predicting sea level changes.

The share of ice transport towards the oceans between melting at the base or internal shearing of the whole ice body has to be reconsidered, but cannot be determined from surface data alone. Instead, deep drill cores into fast flowing ice are important, such as the ongoing EastGRIP project in which some of the authors are involved.

Publication:
Bons, P.D., Kleiner, T., Llorens, M.G., Prior, D.J., Sachau, T., Weikusat, I. Jansen, D.
Greenland Ice Sheet – Higher non linearity of ice flow significantly reduces estimated basal motion. Geophysical Research Letters. First published: 19 June 2018. Doi:10.1029/2018GL078356
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2018GL078356

Contact:
Professor Dr. Paul D. Bons
University of Tübingen – Faculty of Science
Geosciences – Structural Geology
Phone +49 7071 29-76469
paul.bons[at]uni-tuebingen.de

Junior Professor Dr. Ilka Weikusat
University of Tübingen – Faculty of Science – Geosciences – Glaciology
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
Phone +49 471 4831 1968
ilka.weikusat[at]uni-tuebingen.de

Dr. Karl Guido Rijkhoek | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>